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My Daily Daring Adventure as a High School Teacher

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


6:52 AM: Already on my merry way to school, I'm getting my daily dose of perspective from the combination of NPR on the radio and the Florida sunrise on the horizon. 

7:41 AM: Stealing a moment of peace in the Tampa Catholic Chapel—Fr. Hendry is saying Daily Mass. He's got a great Scottish accent, and I love seeing my students here. Afterward, I chat with Barrett, one of my juniors who has his sights set on ND. (Needless to say, I'm totally psyched for him.)

8:00 AM: First bell. Let the games begin! #Homeroom. Today I'm playing DJ and exposing them to Tracy Chapman's "Crossroads," but really, all they want to hear is "Baba Yetu." (Not that I blame them, it's an amazing song).

9:28 AM: Midway through second period, Evan, one of my students, shares the amazing story of his grandfather who escaped from a work camp in Communist Cuba by cutting off his own toes. We're reading Of Mice and Men, and talking about whether any of the characters have a real chance of achieving the so-called "American Dream." He's told me before that his favorite quote is "Sometimes, you can't see the window through the glass." I wonder if there's a connection...


11:55 AM: Lunchtime! A much-appreciated break from the teaching grind to eat with my compadres in the English Department. Spotlight on this legend: Pat Bindert. I hardly know where to start, but let's just say when I gave everyone in our department the cooking spice which best captured their personality for Christmas, she got a single vanilla bean. Wizened, pure, and paradoxical—a flavor which is both exotic and familiar, universally recognized as wonderful. She's taught at many different kinds of schools, and she is an endless source of wisdom, guidance, and inspiration for me.

2:17 PM: It's the last period of the day, and because my American Literature class is currently studying Transcendentalism, we are outside, discussing examples of modern-day Thoreaus. We finish with an exercise in nonconformity. Inspired by one of Mr. Keating's antics in The Dead Poet's Society, I challenge them to express their true self in the way they walk around the picnic tables. Hesitancy soon gives way to confidence. The result is simultaneously hilarious, strangely moving, and really cool to watch.

3:00 PM: Last bell! The class day is over, and I get my daily visit from a junior football star named Treyvon. I'm pretty sure he started coming by because of a rumor he heard that I always have chocolate in my room, but now it's just a tradition. I ask him for a quote for this blog post: "Tell them Ray Lewis is my hero because his leadership and work ethic inspire everyone to be greater than they are." Perfect. Love it.


3:41 PM: After-school tutoring is over and it's time for lacrosse practice! Tryouts are this week, and I've been working with the brand new recruits. They take me right back to my own freshman year of high school, when I was "in their cleats," awkwardly trying to figure out how to fail with grace. Important life lesson, that one.

6:07 PM: We finish with a bit of conditioning and all come in for the breakdown: "Heads, Hearts, Get Together! TC LAX fights forever! Go Crusaders!" The moment is perfect, and I know it's going to be a great season.

6:40 PM: Tonight, the TC basketball team is hosting "Faculty Appreciation Night," so I change quickly and head to the gym. I chat with my buddy Tony, a pillar of the TC community who has been at the school for 30+ years and sells tickets at every sports game. He's the real deal. Then, I find a spot with several other faculty members (including Mike and Vincent, two other ACE teachers at TC!) to watch the game. Two of my boys are on the team and several of my girls are cheerleaders or dancers.


To other spectators, our squad may appear as just a row of numbers. Not to us. It's incredible how fast each one of them has become so, so much more than a number to all of us in the faculty section. I often wonder if our students have any idea how much we care or how proud we are...

8:32 PM: I finally pull into our driveway. Home. We have a quick community pow-wow over ice-cream, and then it's straight to the shower.

11:54 PM: At this point, I've been deep in planning mode for a while. I've designed a Frankenstein test, planned lessons for my writing class tomorrow, submitted online reflections for our Educational Psychology class, and graded a batch of quizzes. I'm completely exhausted. Time to make my lunch, pack my bag for tomorrow, and head to bed. I call my sister for a quick check-in, but then its lights out. Until tomorrow.

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all." –Helen Keller